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Everyday Moments throughout provides you and your child memorable opportunities to learning through summer adventures! A time to capture sights and sounds where you and your child make new sensational experiences. Whatever you have planned for the summer, creating a summer routine adds memories to the precious moments you already spend with your child.

What are Everyday Nature Activities?

For new parents, summer is a great time to bring your child outside to explore nature using their five senses: hear, touch, smell, sight, and taste. This could be your child’s first time exploring nature; take it slow as they become more comfortable with their senses as you explore those moments together. For instance, you could point to a flower and describe the petal and stem colours. Then, smell the flower together to discover a particular scent. Being able to share outdoor Everyday Moments means your child will become more comfortable exploring nature-like features such as plants, animals, and weather conditions. A nature activities offers a variety in terms of materials, along with new ways of experiencing existing indoor activities. A planned routine could mean your child feels more prepared and confident to conquer the activities planned for the day!

Planning a routine is like having a tool box of activities to experience throughout the summer. Having a variety of activities on hand makes life easier for you and your child to plan activities and build your schedule. Summer time feels warm and light, feel free to change up activities to fit your child’s interests and environment. For example, if it rains when you initially planned an outdoor picnic, don’t be afraid to host an indoor picnic!

Activities Anytime Anywhere

Everyday Moment Summer Activities

› Wake Up Time

Infant : Massage your Baby: Arms and Hands
Toddler : Toddler Sees Mr. Sunrise
Preschooler : Preschooler Wake-up Routine

› Meal Time

Infant: Baby Feast Food Experience
Toddler: Toddler Picnic
Preschooler: Preschool Ice-cream Snack

› Play Time

Infant: Baby Nature Walk
Toddler: Toddler Playing Ball
Preschooler: Preschool Painting with Nature

› Tidy-up Time

Toddler: Toddler Cleans up a Mess
Preschooler: Preschool Tidy-up Time

› Change Time

Infant: Baby Tickles
Toddler: Toddler Colour Day Game
Preschooler: Preschooler Buttons

› Bed Time

Infant: Baby Bath and Wash Time
Toddler: Toddler Sees Twinkle Star
Preschooler: Preschool Bed-Time

Everyday Moments are precious moments in the day where nurture, explore, and share happen between you and your child (i.e. wake-up, meal time, bed time, story time). A summer routine is unique because children can respond differently to the outdoor environment (i.e. weather, plants, animals, scent). The outdoors provide another place to bond with your child. Bonding time supports your child’s emotional and social development to think out loud and describe feelings of other and of self. Activities in this summer guide are geared towards babies, toddlers, and preschoolers which you may find helpful to add to your summer routine.

Participating in summer activities is entertaining and enjoyable, however, planning the activity can be just as fun! Hunting for materials for an art project for example, can be a game in itself. One way to get into planning is to be as curious as your child is. For example, you might point at a beautiful rainbow and your child might ask “What is a rainbow? Add an outdoor element to your painting activity outdoors, by painting the colours of the rainbow with your child with sticks and leaves instead of paint brushes.

Spending time with your child creates a lifelong social and emotional connection towards a loving relationship. When your child is familiar with your voice and touch, they will respond with safety and security. Your child will thrive knowing you are there to support them even when they feel afraid. Is your child afraid of walking under a running water spray? To reassure your child’s fear, you might say, “The water is surprising, but if watch the rhythm of the fountain, you might figure out the best time to run through, watch me!”. Exploring new activities together in a nurturing environment helps to develop their understanding of fear and how to overcome those fears.

Did you know:

  • Pretend play helps your child to develop problem-solving and social skills to be able to share ideas and feelings.
  • Building independence means giving your child time to try a challenging task such as pulling their shirt over their head.
  • Sharing feelings develops your child’s emotional understanding of others and self.
  • Your child can overcome fears based on your reassuring voice. For instance, you pet the dog and say “This is a nice dog”. Wait for your child to pet the dog, then in a calm voice respond, “The dog loves to be petted by you, I’m right here”.

Complete Summer Guide PDF download coming soon!

« Summer Activity Guide Part 2: The Pursuit of Summer Fun »

For many new parents, the thought of an Everyday Moment might not represent anything particularly special. Perhaps those moments start to feel just like routine parts of every day.

But there is magic in the Everyday Moments you are already spending with your child. Magic in moments like waking up, meal time, diaper change time, bath time, play time, reading time, driving to the store, walking to the park, bed time.

In each of those Everyday Moments are opportunities to really connect with your child. And they are moments to cherish. Talking with your baby, pointing and talking about what you’re doing, cuddling and tickling when changing a diaper, singing when driving in a car, cuddling anytime is a good idea.

And here’s the magic part. If you do all these things while spending time with your baby through the Everyday Moments, you will be supporting your child’s healthy social, emotional and intellectual development as you interact with your baby. You do not have to plan a special event or buy a bunch of things…an Everyday Moment should feel natural because they do happen naturally throughout the day as you continue to nurture and share moments with your baby. Nothing complicated, only time with your baby is a moment well-spent in promoting developmental milestones (i.e. social, emotional, thinking, language, body and hand movement).

Example:

By sharing Everyday Moments your baby is learning many things at once, take this opportunity to be an explorer with your baby. An example could be when your baby is staring at an object (ex: trees, cars) or person; take this opportunity to describe what they might be observing. Say “you’re looking at orange leaves up on the tree” instead of “are you looking at that tree”. The more you describe, the more your baby hears words to build on language skills. This way, your baby will not only learn words but also become aware of the things in their environment.

One of the most common and frequent Everyday Moments is during bedtime when you tuck your baby in. This is an ideal moment because there is so much to do during bedtime. Some bedtime suggestions include:

  1. Cuddling
  2. Reading a story to your baby
  3. Sharing about your day
  4. Singing a lullaby song to your baby
  5. Talking to your baby (Remembering the food you ate with your baby or the time you spent together).

More Everyday Moments activities: Infants | ToddlersPreschoolers

DID YOU KNOW…?

  • When you respond to your baby crying middle of the night, you become more mindful of their different types of cries
  • Eye-to-eye contact with your baby provides a strong communication bond
  • Your hormones can effect bonding time with your baby (i.e. keep smiling)

1. Now is the time to start setting limits that go beyond safety.

Decide on a few rules that really matter. For instance, “be gentle” and “no hurting others” are good rules for a toddler. Try not to have too many limits or rules about little things that are not important. If you do, everyone will end up getting angry. Let your child know what the rules are and stick to them. Be firm and be consistent. Remind her of the limits before going out or doing something new. And make sure your child’s caregivers know the rules, too.

2. Toddlers respond better to limits when they feel loved. Try talking to your toddler in a positive way.

Say, “Please close the door quietly,” instead of “Don’t slam the door.” Pay attention to his good behaviour and tell him that you are proud of him. This can build your child’s self-esteem and he won’t want to battle with you all the time.

3. It takes time for toddlers to learn to make friends and get along with others.

Their social skills will improve as they learn to talk and control their movements more. Playing with your child will help her get ready to be with others. Talk with her in a happy, playful way. You can even act out ways of dealing with new situations that your toddler will face.

4. When you need to leave your toddler with a new caregiver, start by introducing them for short periods of time when you are there, too.

Try to let your child get used to the caregiver before you leave them full-time. For the first few days, stay with your child and the caregiver for a little while. This will help your child adjust and help you learn more about daycare. Stay for a little less time each day. This will make the first couple of weeks easier for you and your child.

5. Bring your toddler’s favourite toy and a snack when you go out.

Talk about where you’re going and what you’ll be doing. Tell him how you expect him to behave (“Stay with Mommy”). Also be careful about the time of day you go – children need their snacks and naps. If you think the outing will be too much for your child, leave him at home or with a caregiver, if you can.

6. Toddlers need routines.

They learn to expect what will happen next. This gives them a feeling of control. Bedtime routines are important and can make life happier for everyone. Set a regular bedtime hour. Make a routine that includes calming things like a bath or reading a book. To help your child learn the routine, tell her ahead of time what the next step will be.

7. Toddlers will get into mischief.

Faster than you can imagine! They are busy exploring the world around them. It is not difficult for them to break things or hurt themselves. Make sure your toddler has safe surroundings and is never alone for long.

8. All toddlers break the rules at times.

How you respond depends on the situation and your child’s age. Think about how your child is feeling. When he misbehaves, it’s often because he is upset. He isn’t trying to make you mad – he just doesn’t know how to tell you what’s bothering him. Try to figure it out. Was he bored without you? Was he excitedly trying new things? Understanding your child’s feelings may help you guide him better.

9. Your toddler needs to know that you will be there when she needs you.

A secure child will more eagerly explore the world around her. If you notice that your child is having difficulty, stop what you’re doing and go to help her. If she is finding it hard to be part of the group, try giving her a toy related to the group’s play to help her join in.

10. Being a parent can be tough.

Parents need to give each other support. Some parents form groups to talk and help each other out. Ask your local health unit, library or community centre to help you find one of these groups. It’s important you know you’re not alone. Research confirms that all parents both need and want help!

Were you warned? Many new parents are. Often, grandparents and other experienced parents pass on solemn warnings to new parents like you about the challenges of dealing with your baby’s willful misbehaviour. But, what is the truth and what is fiction? Is it possible that your baby is capable of defying you? Of being manipulative?

It’s hard to believe but, as your baby’s mind develops, it can happen: Your little angel demands to be picked up or refuses to nap. Our experts have put together some tips to help you find out when this behaviour starts and what you can do about it.

The Beginnings of Will

Let’s take a closer look at your baby’s will. What does “will” look like in the beginning?

You will begin to see glimmers of your baby’s will during the period from 4 to 6 months. By 4 months of age, your baby may begin to cry in an attempt to have you come and play with her. This behaviour doesn’t usually become regular or really purposeful until the end of the sixth month or later.

The onset of your baby’s deliberate crying to call for you indicates that she has trust in your relationship, because you have reliably met her needs when she has cried in the past.

This type of crying is different from regular fussy periods, which often appear at the end of the day. The fussy periods are more related to your baby’s adjustments to her nervous system, along with her ever changing sleeping, eating and activity levels.

What triggers will?

Your baby’s newfound ability to crawl around independently fuels his developing sense of separateness. From 7 to 10 months, your baby experiences a rapid growth in his awareness of what he can control or cause to happen. What a stage! Babies become accomplished at asserting themselves in both delightful and exasperating ways.

What is will?

At about 9 months of age, willful behaviours tend to emerge. Your baby will begin showing that she has an opinion that doesn’t always correspond with yours.

There is an important distinction you need to make regarding what it means for your baby to “mind.” Often, what distresses parents is the fact that their baby refuses to have the same mind set as they do. If your baby doesn’t mind, it’s because she’s following her own will rather than listening to you. With a 6- to 12-month-old, this rarely stands for real defiance (as in, “I won’t”).  At this stage, it almost always means that she is simply stating her wishes (such as, “I don’t want to,” or even, “I really, really don’t want to.”)

Defiance is rare before your baby’s first birthday and is not very typical before 18 months of age. If you think you see an early onset of defiance, ask your baby’s physician for a referral to a child guidance clinic. This type of challenge is most successfully handled in the early stages.

A Helpful Strategy

Remember—a strong will is a sign of good health. Your baby need’s a strong will to achieve all the milestones in the following months and years of life! Don’t be afraid of it. When thinking about and working with your baby’s emerging will, there are two aspects of Positive Parenting that are particularly important.

1. Positive Parents are understanding of their baby’s temperament.

You are an understanding Positive Parent when you:

  • Understand your baby’s temperament and work with it.
  • Build on your baby’s strengths.
  • Are flexible with your baby.

2. Positive Parents are reasonable.

You are a reasonable Positive Parent when you:

  • Are consistent and predictable.
  • Set and communicate clear limits and expectations.
  • Construct consequences for irresponsible behaviour that are natural and reasonable, but not disciplinary.

Hitting the toy store when you’re a parent can be an exercise in being overwhelmed. There are rows and rows of shiny, colourful objects and it’s hard to know which ones are worth the price. First-time parents can be especially unsure, as it’s hard to know what their new baby will enjoy and what toys will help with her development.

In order to choose the best toys available, parents need to understand a bit about their child’s development. Our experts have created the following list of skills that a one-month-old has developmentally – these are great things to keep in mind when choosing toys for a newborn. But remember, your baby’s best toy in the first year will will always be you!

Typical Emotional Skills

  • Enjoys/needs a great deal of physical contact and tactile stimulation.
  • Responds positively to comfort and satisfaction.

Typical Fine Motor Skills

  • Stares at colourful objects 8 – 14 inches away.
  • Follows person with eyes while lying on back.
  • Generally keeps hands closed in a fist or slightly open.
  • When fingers are pried open from their usual fist position, baby grasps the handle of a spoon or rattle, but drops it quickly.

Typical Gross Motor Skills

  • Lifts her head when held against your chest; his head sags, flops forward or backwards when not supported.
  • All arm, leg and hand are usually held in a flex position; when they do move it is with little control.
  • When lying on her back, you will see the tonic neck reflex which is characterized by the head turned to one side; the arm on the side that the head is turned is extended while the other arm is bent upwards.  The leg on the side that the head is turned is extended and the other leg is bent at the knee.  This is similar to the position that a fencer assumes.
  • When on her tummy, she turns her head to clear her nose from bed; may lift head briefly.

Typical Intellectual Skills

  • Cries when hungry or uncomfortable.
  • May make throaty sounds like ‘ooooh’ or ‘aaaah’.
  • Pays close attention to faces of those closest to him.
  • Responds to loud or sudden noises with a sudden start; this is one of the early signs of a developing response system.
  • Focuses on high contrast patterns and faces; prefers these to bright or big objects.

Typical Social Skills

  • Fixes eyes on your face in response to your smile.
  • Moves body in response to your voice during interaction.
  • Quiets down when looking at familiar faces.
  • Engages in eye contact.

Here are some kinds of toys your infant might enjoy.

Babies are born with the need to form close relationships with caring and responsive adults – what childhood experts call “attachments.” If children don’t have the opportunity to develop close, uninterrupted attachments with nurturing adults during the early years, young children will find it more difficult to learn, to become confident and to trust others.

Babies can form consistent attachments with the people who are around them most. These few important relationships create a sense in your child of what kind of world this is and what her place is in it.

A secure attachment to caring adults helps your child learn to adapt to circumstances more easily, and to overcome difficult situations throughout his life. This kind of attachment helps your child to believe the world is a friendly and safe place. Having a parent or caregiver who learns to understand and respond to a baby’s signals, such as picking baby up and comforting him when crying, will help to form a secure, healthy attachment.

Relax, and don’t worry about making mistakes. It will take some time for you to learn what your baby is trying to communicate. All parents learn by trial and error. As long as your baby knows she can count on you most of the time, she’ll be amazingly flexible and forgiving.

When it comes to young children and sleeping the most predictable thing might be how unpredictable their sleeping habits can be! It can be frustrating and exhausting when your child isn’t sleeping well. In this section you’ll find articles to help you better understand sleep and your baby.

There are valid reasons for parents to use either the Attachment Parenting approach or the Cry It Out approach. Let’s continue to look at what we believe:

The success of either approach depends on:

  • Is the approach done well? (For example, do it gradually for the Cry It Out method; avoid smothering your baby with attention with the Attachment Parenting approach.)
  • Are there other factors in your baby’s life? (For example: Did Mom go back to work? Is your baby teething? Is your baby ill? Is she having a growth spurt? This happens at around 6 months for some babies.)
  • Are you emotionally prepared for it? (For example, the amount of crying in Cry It Out; the amount of dependency in Attachment Parenting.)

Can you tolerate waking up in the night?

Not every parent can tolerate waking up in the middle of the night. When you respond to your baby out of frustration, anger or stress, your baby can pick up on your emotions.  If this is the case, the Cry It Out method may be more helpful. If any of the following apply to you, consider using the Cry It Out method:

  • Do you become sleep-deprived easily when your baby interrupts your sleep at night? Sleep deprivation may leave you unable to parent well during the day.
  • Can you control your emotions in the middle of the night? Some parents always feel anger when their baby wakes them up. They just can’t stop these feelings.
  • Do you need to conserve your energy and alertness for your daytime job? For some parents, their co-workers, patients, customers, students or clients count on their alertness, creativity and courteousness—even though these parents have a baby at home.

When it doesn’t work.

The Cry It Out method doesn’t always work! For some families it works just the way it’s supposed to. After a few nights and a few tears, their child sleeps contentedly through the night. However, for other families, the tears continue and the promised sleep does not come. When this happens, parents need to try something else.

When your baby’s bottom is red and sore, it’s hard not to feel like you’ve done something wrong as a parent. But almost every baby gets diaper rash at least once before outgrowing diapers. This can be painful for your baby and upsetting for you, so what is diaper rash and how can you prevent it?

Diaper rash is a form of dermatitis, which is a skin irritation or inflammation that’s confined to your baby’s diaper area around the buttocks, genitals and thighs. When your baby has a diaper rash the skin in one or more of those areas will appear red and puffy and will feel warmer than other areas of your baby’s skin. He might appear fussy or cry, especially when you touch him in that area.

When your baby is wearing a diaper, that diaper can keep his bottom warm and damp, which is the most common reason for diaper rash. If the diaper or other clothing fits too snuggly it can also chafe and irritate baby’s sensitive skin, leading to diaper rash. Other reasons include urine and stool irritating baby’s skin, a change in stool when your baby begins to eat new foods after six months of age, bacteria or a yeast infection and, occasionally, it is caused by a reaction or allergy to a product such as laundry detergent or lotion, or to the fragrance in such products.

While diaper rash can’t always be prevented, there are several things you can do to decrease the chance that your baby with get it.

  • Change your baby’s diapers often, especially when they are soiled with stool.
  • Clean your baby’s diaper area and then apply a layer of petroleum jelly or zinc oxide ointment over the area before putting on a fresh diaper.
  • Make sure the diaper isn’t over-tightened.
  • Diaper liners and breathable covers for cloth diapers can help to keep your baby’s skin drier.
  • Wash cloth diapers in hot water and mild detergent, after pre-soaking them if heavily soiled. Avoid fabric softeners and fragrances.

You’ve decided to try Cry it Out, also know as The Ferber method after the doctor who popularized it, but you want to make sure that your baby is ready. Our experts suggest that you start the Cry it Out method no earlier than 6 months, and preferably wait until your baby is 9 months old or older. They base this opinion on many developmental factors of infants. But, you need to decide what is appropriate for your own baby and your family.

If you’re not sure whether your baby is ready, just give it a try. If you encounter too much resistance, wait a few weeks and then try again. Waiting doesn’t mean that you’re spoiling your baby; you’re simply responding to your baby’s needs.

There are a few things you need to do to ensure that you have a good chance for success with the Cry it Out method. Before starting, have a bedtime routine already in place, and wean your baby’s night time feedings as much as possible.

Once that’s in place, talk to your partner and determine that you are both totally on board. It is essential that both parents understand and agree with how to proceed and create a unified parenting front. Be prepared for a few difficult nights – it can be excruciating to hear your baby cry and you need to support each other if one of both of you finds it hard to do.

You should have a plan in place for how you’ll endure the periods of crying. Maybe you’ll want to watch TV or listen to music to distract you from the crying. If one of you finds the crying too hard take turns staying close to the baby while the other leaves for a bit.

You’ll also want to decide in advance how much crying you’ll allow before determining that this isn’t the right method for you or that your child isn’t ready. If you have a plan in place beforehand you will have an easier time then you would making a decision in the heat of the moment.

When you start the Cry it Out method make sure that both of you are relaxed. Maybe you’ll choose to start on a Saturday night or a long weekend when neither one of you has to be up for work the next day, and you have the emotional reserves to handle the first few nights of this method. You also want to make sure that the baby’s life is pretty stable. If you are expecting any major changes to your baby’s routine, and especially if you are going to be less available, it’s probably best to wait. Start the method well before or well after going back to work and don’t start close to vacation time or a move.

In Dr. Ferber’s book, he suggests the following intervals for crying:

  • Night #1: Let your baby cry for 3 minutes the first time, 5 minutes the second time, and 10 minutes for the third time and any other periods.
  • Night #2: Let your baby cry for 5 minutes the first time, 10 minutes the second time and then 12 minutes for the third time and any other periods.
  • Night #3: and beyond: Make the intervals a little longer on each subsequent night.

There’s nothing magical about these wait periods. You can choose any length of time, and any number of nights that you feel comfortable trying.

If you’re feeling frayed after a few nights try to relax and think about the end result. When it’s all over everyone in your household is going to sleep more easily and happily and that should make it all worthwhile.

Placing babies on their backs to sleep can decrease the risk of SIDS. However, some babies who sleep on their backs develop flat spots on the backs of their heads.

This does not affect brain development, but the flat spot can develop over several weeks and become permanent over time. This is often called Flat Head.

By alternating the way you position your baby in the crib or infant seat, you can help to prevent flat head. For example, one day place your baby with his head pointing toward the headboard of the crib; the next day, place him with his head pointing toward the footboard of the crib. Babies can turn their heads and will do this, especially if they have something interesting to look at, like a brightly-coloured toy or mobile. Make sure you place it close enough for your baby to see—about 10 to 15 inches away.

The other way to help prevent flat head is to be sure to give your baby some tummy time several times every day while your baby is awake.  Tummy time not only takes the pressure off the back of your baby’s head it also helps the muscles in your baby’s neck, to develop further.  You can do this in a variety of ways

  • Lay on your back and place your awake baby on your chest;
  • Place a blanket on the floor and place your baby on their tummy – you can even lay beside them and talk or sing to them;
  • If you have an exercise or birth ball you can rest your baby tummy-side down on the ball, hold the baby in this position and gently move the ball.

Some babies may not like being on their tummy, listen to your baby’s cues and try again at another time. Begin with short periods of time at first and gradually increase the amount of time they are on their tummy.

Experts recommend that babies are always placed on their backs to sleep because this reduces the chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS, also called crib death, is when a baby dies suddenly and unexpectedly, for no apparent reason.

Some babies, however, develop flat spots on their heads as a result of always lying on their backs. This occurs because the weakness in their neck muscles can cause them to turn their head to the same side over and over again, and this puts pressure on their soft skulls.

Head flattening does not affect brain development, but in some cases it can be permanent. There are some things you can do to prevent flat head. For example, when putting your child to bed, you can alternate putting a mobile to the left and to the right of your baby, so he turns his head a different way every night. It’s also important to make sure your child spends some time during the day lying on his tummy (learn more about tummy time), when you are there to watch him. In addition to helping you prevent flat head, spending time on their tummy is also important for babies’ development.

For more detailed information on SIDS and flat head and other practical suggestions on how to prevent them, visit Caring for Kids (from the Canadian Paediatric Society) If you continue to be concerned about your child’s flat head, however, talk to your doctor.

There are things that you can do to help teach your baby the difference between daytime naps and going to bed at night. It is suggested that starting with a consistent bedtime routine from the very first night. Routines really help ready your baby for sleep by gradually decreasing stimulation. New parents are often exhausted as they realize that their baby doesn’t know the difference between night and day – meaning many sleepless nights and a big adjustment to their usual sleep schedule.

Here are some suggestions you can follow to create a routine:

  • Give your baby a warm bath – keep in mind that some baby’s develop dry or irritated skin when bathed daily, so this may not work for your child.
  • Give your baby a massage.
  • Dress your baby in different clothing at bedtime, such as pyjamas.
  • Make sure your baby has a dry diaper.
  • Read a book to your baby (even though baby doesn’t really know what you’re reading, this can be comforting and it is a way to bond).
  • Quietly sing a lullaby or play soothing music.
  • Keep the lighting low – use a night light or draw the blinds.
  • Keep the room at a comfortable temperature.
  • Feed your baby.
  • Walk, rock or cuddle to help relax and calm your baby.

If your baby wakes up, always respond. Once you’ve figured out and solved the reason for waking – hunger, wet diaper, etc. – keep talking and other stimulation to a minimum. This will make it easier for your baby to settle again.

For more about bedtime routines, see the following articles:

Click here to learn more about your baby and sleep.

Both new and seasoned parents strive to help create some order out of the possible chaos of the few first months and routines are a great way to achieve that.

Here are some some common routines you might establish with your little one.

Bedtime Routines

Did you know that a nightly routine can help your baby learn to go to sleep and to sleep better? Now, what parent would turn that down? So how do you do it?

Watch your baby for signs of sleepiness; closing his eyes, squinting, rubbing his eyes or face, yawning, etc. Those signs present an opportunity to start a bedtime routine. If your baby likes water and relaxes in it, this would be a good time for a quiet bath, if instead a bath wakes him up or dries out his skin, perhaps soft music will help him relax. Once he’s dressed for bed, cuddle up together and read a few books. Help him to learn the difference between day and night by making his surroundings quiet, dark and cool when putting him to bed.

The same goes for naps. Creating a predictable routine to ease into a nap will help him learn to do this for himself. On another note, some babies have a very difficult time waking up, especially from naps. They rise totally disoriented and many cry very hard. A wake-up routine that provides them with the comfort they require is very important for these babies.

To learn even more about bedtime routines check out our articles on sleeping.

Mealtime Routines

Until your baby is 12 weeks or 3 months old, she should be eating on demand and she may still be feeding during the night. After that, you may notice that your baby feeds about five times a day at fairly predictable times. This pattern is actually the beginning of her future eating routine.

By the time she’s 6-months-old, her eating patterns will be more noticeable and predictable. This is also the time that you’ll start to feed her solids, iron rich foods, such as iron-fortified rice cereal and meats. Some experts feel this helps to establish mealtime routines. You can start your baby’s mealtime routine at this time, perhaps feeding her on your lap at the dinner table or using a high chair pulled up to the table, and using a baby spoon or plate.

Watch this Infant Mealtime Video for strategies and tips!

Play Routines

Talk to your baby from the beginning of his life, even though he can’t hold up his end of the conversation. Sometime during these first 6 months, he’ll start making the beginning sounds of talking, maybe even responding to your chatter. Now that’s exciting! Talking to your baby about what you see, what you’re doing, about everything, helps him to learn language and communicate.

Playing is the work of babies. It’s how they learn about themselves, others and the world around them. By the time your baby is 3 months old, set aside regular play time every day.

While playing with your baby, teach him about his world—the textures of items, the different sounds you can make with your voice, the different shapes and colours of objects. Everyday activities, such as diaper changing, bathing or helping your baby to wake up, all provide opportunities for you to make teachable moments from the everyday moments you spend with your child.

It’s common for new parents to worry that their baby is crying too much. And, like most new parents, you are likely being bombarded by advice and ideas on how to deal with this from your friends and family.

It’s completely normal for new parents to be concerned when their baby cries. Of course parents feel uncomfortable when their baby cries, but all babies do. It’s the main way they have to tell you that they need something.

Parents worry that if they always pick up their baby when he cries they will spoil him, but that just isn’t true. Your newborn isn’t crying to please or upset you – he doesn’t know how to do that yet. He’s just letting you know that he needs something or that he’s upset and unhappy. In fact, babies that are soothed when they cry actually cry less in the long run. Also, if you don’t respond to your baby’s cries on a regular basis it can interfere with his ability to trust you and other people now and in the future.

Our experts have put together some facts about crying and some tips to help you cope.

  • It’s common for many babies to cry more during the first six weeks. Gradually, as they learn to soothe or quiet themselves down, they’ll cry less and less. It takes a while for this to happen, though. Some babies who have very sensitive temperaments, can take a long time to learn to soothe themselves.
  • It’s typical for young babies to cry many times a day for a total of about 2 hours in a 24 hour period. But you have to remember, every baby is different. Some cry more often or for longer periods. This can add up to 3 or more hours in a day. Most of these babies are healthy and growing well.
  • Talk to your doctor about your baby’s crying at your next appointment. Ask if she has any guidelines about when to call or when you should worry. There are no real hard and fast guidelines, but if you want to know what’s typical and normal try filling out a crying log to show to your baby’s doctor.
  • And never hesitate to call the doctor if you are worried about crying. The staff will ask you more specific questions and help you gauge your baby’s needs.
  • Babies cry for lots of reasons. He could be hot or cold or have a tummy ache. Maybe he is just lonely and needs to be held. Finding the reason for his cries is part of the learning – in time you will learn most of his cues.
  • Babies do not need to cry to develop their lungs. Most babies don’t know how to soothe themselves for at least the first six months and sometimes longer. So always try to soothe your crying, young baby.
  • Avoid letting him ‘cry it out.’ Keep trying to soothe him. Your baby needs to feel your presence.
  • If you feel frustrated or angry, you can let your baby cry until you feel calm again. Letting your baby cry is better than you feeling the urge to shake him or worse. Try calling someone for support; ask for help. It’s OK to need a break now and then.
  • When your baby is fussy try consoling him by walking, rocking and talking softly to him. Sometimes a warm bath helps or singing. Some parents find taking their baby for a drive helps, as the motion of the car can be soothing.
  • There are two red flags to watch for when your baby is crying: one is a very high-pitched cry and the other is a really feeble cry. IF your baby cries in either of these two ways, or if you’re worried about your baby, call the doctor or take the baby to the emergency room.

As a new parent, one of the first things you discover is that your baby’s sleep patterns are very different than your own. A baby’s sleep pattern is not predictable and it can be a big adjustment! Some newborns sleep 16 hours a day, some 21 and some only 11 – and over the course of their first 6 months, they will pass through a number of different stages.

In the first few months, your baby will pass back and forth between periods of sleep and wakefulness, each amounting to about 3 or 4 hours. Once your baby is 3 or 4 months old, nighttime sleep tends to lengthen.

Adults tend to spend about 20% of their night in a light Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep, but very young infants spend about half of their sleep there. It’s normal for babies to lie quietly or seem like they’re neither really awake nor really asleep. If nothing catches their attention, they may just fall back to sleep.

Sleeping and eating go together, so as time between feedings increases, your baby will have stretches where they will sleep for a longer period of time. But remember, babies wakeful times are not completely linked to food. Your baby’s internal clock regulates eating, sleeping, elimination and moods. As newborns, babies don’t know the difference between night and day – they sleep and wake at any time.

New parents are often at their wit’s end dealing with a baby’s crying. Sometimes it feels like the baby will never stop crying and nothing you do seems to soothe her. So what do you do when you feel like you just can’t handle one more minute of your baby’s cries?

It can be hard to walk away from a crying baby, but if you’re starting to feel especially stressed out or frustrated, the best thing to do is put the baby down in a safe place – usually her crib – and remove yourself for a few minutes until you’re calm enough to be safely with her. Remember that it’s normal for babies to have these crying spells when nothing seems to work and, while it’s important to try to comfort and soothe her, it’s equally important to know when you’ve reached the limits of your patience.

It is suggested that new parents have a back-up plan, someone who they can call to come help, or who can talk it out with you until you feel calmer. Unfortunately, sometimes a parent will get so frustrated that they will shake their baby to stop the crying. This is very dangerous and can lead to injury or even death. No one means to hurt their baby, but it does happen. That’s why it’s so important to put your baby in a safe place when you’re at the end of your rope.

When these moments hit, try turning on your favourite music, or running the dishwasher or washing machine. Sometimes white noise will help to muffle the sound a bit and it can give you a short break to calm down and a different noise to focus on. This white noise may even be soothing for your baby and help her to settle.

It’s also important to remember that your babysitter or other caretakers for your child may have the same frustrations. Babies are even more likely to have a crying spell when someone else is caring for them, so talk to your sitter about ways to cope if she feels like she’s losing her patience.

Never be afraid to call your doctor or go to the emergency room if you are concerned about your baby’s cries. You are the best person to judge the condition of your baby.

When toddlers get upset, it can be very hard on them and the people around them. Here are several suggestions from our experts to make things easier on everyone.

  • Offer your child a safe quiet place to calm down, away from others, but where she knows she is not entirely alone.
  • Help your child regain control of his emotions by teaching him deep breathing and to think about good things.
  • Try to calm your child by gently changing the scene into something more positive, like baking cookies, going for a walk or cuddling together while you watch TV.
  • Encourage positive, fun physical activity, like jumping on cushions, to help release strong feelings.
  • Most importantly, try to keep yourself calm when your child is upset. Remember that you can’t be helpful unless you are in control of your own emotions.
  • During your regular daily life provide a good example of coping with your own emotions by saying things in front of your child like, “I’m sure I can get through this if I slow down and think about it.”

Some toddlers are more expressive, some more timid. Some are very physically active, and some are more sedate. Some are sensitive to loud noises, while others are not bothered at all. Some thrive when surrounded by people, while others are content to play alone quietly. These differences are what we call temperament, and much of this becomes evident in the first few months after birth.

As parents, it is important to recognize and accept the basic temperament of your child, so you can respond appropriately. For example, if your child’s temperament is timid, introduce new activities slowly and allow time for him to build up confidence. If your child’s temperament is highly active, give advance notice of changes, so she doesn’t fly off the handle. And, if your child’s temperament is easy-going, remember that even though she copes well, you are still needed – so check in and stay connected.

To help your child to talk more, it’s a good idea to talk to her whenever you’re together, carrying on a flow of conversation about what you’re doing, and about what she is doing. Try to be animated, using gestures and lots of expression in your voice. Emphasize important words and phrases. But you should pause frequently and for what may seem to be a long wait, so your child has a chance to digest what you have said and to respond. It also helps to have lots of books around and to read to your child often.

Try to encourage his talking by asking some open-ended questions (such as “How do you…?” or “What do you think?”) or by talking about subjects he is interested in. Sometimes, for very quiet children, a good beginning is to ask him to fill in words in familiar rhymes or stories that they know by heart. Really listen to your child, getting down at his eye level and looking at him when he talks. When playing together, follow your child’s lead and talk about what you’re playing with.

It may be tough, but try not to get frustrated by what sounds like “baby talk” from your child. And don’t correct your child’s speech too much. The best thing you can do is set a good example in the way you talk. If you are concerned that your child is behind in language, you may want to call the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists at 1-800-259-8519.

Here are several strategies from our experts that you can try to help your toddler stop wetting the bed:

Limit how much your child drinks after dinner especially any drinks with caffeine. Try and limit any fluids 2 hours before bedtime.

Use training pants and not diapers.  Diapers may interfere with your child’s motivation to get up and use the bathroom.

Make access to the bathroom easy. Place a nightlight in the bathroom or leave the hall light lit.

Encourage your child to empty his bladder a second time, just five minutes after the first time, right before bed.

Wake your child during the night to go to the toilet. However, some experts say that if she’s not really awake, it’s almost like encouraging her to pee while she’s sleeping.

And, place a portable toilet by your child’s bed so that if he wakes up and has to go quickly, he can.

Use of rewards and punishments is no longer recommended as an effective way to manage bedwetting.

If the bedwetting continues despite all your efforts, consult your child’s doctor for more specific strategies.

These days, with both parents working in most families, mornings can be a difficult time as everyone tries to rush out the door. The result can be that each family member ends up unhappy and stressed — as if you’ve already put in a day’s work. But the bottom line is, you have to get to work, and your child has to get to school or childcare.

Consider the following reasons why small children dawdle in the morning:

  • Your child may not want to leave the comfort and safety of home for the outside world.
  • Your child may find it hard to move as fast as you want her to, because that speed doesn’t match their natural rhythms.
  • Your child may still be tired and sleepy in the morning, so if you push them to hurry, they become stressed. If your child is tired almost every morning, they may need to go to bed earlier in order to get more sleep.
  • Your child may be worried that you think your work is more important than they are.

Helpful tips for an easier morning:

  • If your child seems tired, reassure them, but explain that they still have to get ready. As frustrated as you might become, never yell at or physically hurt your child.
  • Lastly, when you drop your child off, let them know that you’re not angry with them and make it clear that you are coming back.

Learn more about making mornings more pleasant for you and your child.

Let’s be honest – mornings can be a struggle even for adults. Throw a child into the mix and unleash the chaos.

Here are several strategies that may help make mornings a little easier on everyone:

It’s important to allow enough time in the morning.

  • Even if it means getting up a bit earlier than you already do, this guarantees a no rush zone in the morning. This will allow you to stay calm and avoid acting stressed around your child.

Create a workable schedule and explain it to your child, so they know what to expect in the morning.

  • For example, let your child know they have to get up, get dressed, eat breakfast and leave the house by 7:30 am. It’s also a good idea to keep this routine as regular as possible.

Build in a little time for your child to play.

  • Let your child know that they can come back to the game later.

Prepare the night before.

  • Try to lay out clothes, prepare lunches and pack up anything else that goes with your child the night before.

Try to incorporate some fun into your morning rituals.

  •  Fun can be singing songs and just getting a little silly together.

Some children become very anxious or scared about going to childcare or school. This is especially common in September, or when your child starts in a new setting, but it can happen at any time. The typical signs are complaints about feeling sick, crankiness, tantrums, saying they can’t find things or refusing to get dressed or get in the car. This can be very stressful and frustrating. It is usually difficult to tell whether your child is really coming down with an illness, or whether they are anxious and developing physical symptoms that look like illness.

As a general rule, it is good to send a child along to daycare or school, unless they have signs of illness such as a fever or a sore throat.

  • The longer children stay home when they are not sick, the harder it is to return to school. So it is better to send them, even if they are upset.
  • Teachers and caregivers are very accustomed to dealing with this type of anxiety. And by all means, alert the school or daycare provider to what is happening, and ask them to monitor your child’s health.

However, if you and your child have had a bad morning where he has become very upset about not wanting to go to school, find a time when you and your child are both calm to try to find out what went wrong.

  • Talk with your child about his school fears and worries. Explain that there is no choice about going to school, but that you appreciate how he feels and will try to help.
  • Then talk to your child’s caregiver or teacher and ask for help and advice.

Sometimes anxiety can be eased by something as simple as the teacher changing your child’s seat in the classroom.

  • Or you or your child’s teacher may notice that he is having difficulty making new friends. You can help in this situation by inviting these other children to play in your home.

If you are feeling guilty about leaving your child, she may pick up on these feelings and become anxious herself.

  • Therefore, it’s very important to show confidence that you know your child and your child’s teacher or caregiver will have a good day when you leave them.

It’s a good idea to help your child learn to manage his emotions, but remember you don’t want to stop young children from having feelings all together. It’s much better to help your child learn better ways of dealing with his feelings instead. Here are several things that you can try:

Try to set a good example for your child. When you find yourself getting upset or frustrated, try saying things out loud like, “I’m sure I can get through this if I slow down and think about it.” This is a great way to teach your child how to calm himself down and remain in control.

Help your child put what she is feeling into words. Teach her what to call different types of feelings.

Talk about the way people in storybooks and pictures are feeling, and talk about what might cause those feelings.

Explain that you understand she’s upset or angry, but at the same time let your child know that some behaviours, like hurting others or constantly whining, are not acceptable.

Take your child’s feelings seriously and acknowledge how he is feeling. Never say “It’s not such a big deal” or “Why are you so upset about that?” Instead, help your child understand that many people have similar feelings on occasion, and some people have them more often. Then discuss the acceptable ways to express them.

Be a positive influence when your child does get upset by helping to calm him and change the situation into something more positive.

Avoid labelling your child by his feelings, such as “He’s always been an angry boy” or “She can’t help it, she’s shy.” Too often, a child will start to believe what is being said, and live up to the label.

If your child’s control of her emotions doesn’t seem to be improving, consult your child’s physician for referrals to appropriate family services in your area.

As your child’s first day of school creeps up, you will both experience different feelings. You’re excited that he’s old enough to start school. At the same time, you wonder if he will adjust to the new routine.

Your child may also be excited. But if she’s never spent time away from you she may feel a bit overwhelmed by the prospect. Similarly, for a child who is already in a childcare setting, spending part of her day in junior or senior kindergarten may pose some new challenges. A new and unfamiliar routine and teacher may take some getting used to.

Whether it’s your child’s first time away from you or he’s making the transition from childcare to school, here are some things you can do to help make the move easier.

  1. Talk about the new routine.
    Talk to your caregiver about the new routine when school starts. Share this with your child so he is prepared for the change.
  2. Talk about what won’t change.
    Prior to school starting, both you and your caregiver can talk about kindergarten, providing reassurance by reminding your child about all the things that will still be the same.
  3. Visit the school in advance.
    If possible, during the summer, visit the school your child will be attending. If there is a playground, you may even want to spend some time there letting her play to become familiar with the environment.
  4. Find out the name of your child’s teacher.
    School administrative offices are often open before the first day of school and may be able to provide you with some information.
  5. Ease your child into class.
    Ask the school if you can visit during the first week perhaps staying for the first hour or until your child seems settled.
  6. Reassure your child that you will be back.
    Make sure your child knows who will pick her up when school finishes. An anxious child may want to know exactly when that will be. Offer a cue from the routine, for instance: “After you clean up the room you will hear the bell ring and you will know it’s time to go home. We’ll be waiting to pick you up.”
  7. Be enthusiastic about school.
    Talk about the wonderful things he will be doing at school – making friends, different kinds of art and play activities and of course learning. This should be done at home with you as well as with your child’s caregiver.
  8. Help your child find friends from school.
    Find other children in the neighbourhood attending school. Your caregiver can help. Talk about them noting how much they enjoy school. Schedule some play dates in advance and have at least one familiar face.
  9. Share your own stories.
    Talk about some of your own stories about school – what was it like for you when you started. If there are older siblings have them join in also.
  10. Get ready together.
    Include her in the preparation for school. This can be as simple as deciding on snacks to send each day or buying school supplies. Including her will make her feel that this day is special and it really is all about her.
  11. Share the excitement of growing up.
    Starting school is often seen as a sign of being a “big boy”. Talk to your child about how he feels about school. Being a “big boy” may be just what he wants or the prospect may be overwhelming. Be sensitive to his feelings and gently continue to talk about the wonderful things that happen at school.
  12. Create a neighborhood walking bus.
    If there are other children in the neighborhood who your child knows and will be attending the same school you may want to walk to school together giving a sense of community to your child even away from his home.
  13. Make a special exhibit at home.
    Set up a special place at home where your child will be able to display work that comes home from school. Even before school starts you can decorate this space together

The transition to kindergarten can be hard for you and your child. Being prepared and explaining to your child some of the things he can expect will give you both some peace of mind.

Here are a number of things you can do to make toilet learning easier for both you and your preschooler:

Help your child become familiar with what learning to use the toilet is all about. Before and during the learning process, read stories about using the toilet such as Once Upon a Potty by Alona Frankel. Explain to your child in simple terms how food and drink become “poo” and “pee,” and what the potty and toilet are used for. Remember, to a little child, a toilet is a big hole that makes a lot of noise. It’s common for some children to think they might fall in and disappear, or that a monster might come out of the toilet after them.

Choose a low-stress time to begin your child’s use of the toilet. Toilet learning works best when both you and your child are relaxed. Avoid times when he is dealing with change, like the arrival of a new baby in the family, a move to a new home, parents’ separation or starting daycare.

Help your child get started by saying that it’s time to start using the toilet like Mom or Dad. Allow her to watch other young children or family members on the toilet, to help her get the idea. Let her have her dolls or stuffed animal pretend to use the potty.

Use a potty chair.It allows children’s feet to touch the floor, helping them to feel more secure. It also allows them to get on and off without having help. Include your child in picking out a potty chair. Let your child just sit on the potty to get used to it, wait at least 1-2 weeks before starting any toilet learning Reading a short story to your child while they sit on the potty may help them to relax as we..

Stay nearby while your child is on the toilet or potty, and don’t make him stay any longer than he wishes to.

Dress your child in loose clothes that he can easily pull up or down. Use training pants or “pull-ups” or cotton underwear once he has been successful for 1-2 weeks.

Help make “going to the washroom” part of your child’s routine, by giving reminders like, “Let’s take a potty break.” Encourage her to use the toilet or potty right after meals, and just before and just after sleep. And when she says she has to go, act fast!

Teach bathroom hygiene. Show your child how to wipe properly after peeing or pooing-girls should wipe from the front to the back. Both boys and girls will need help with this particularly after a bowel movement. Show your child how to wash his hands after using the potty or toilet.

During the process, here are a few other things to keep in mind:

  • Be patient. It may take a child 3-6 months before the diapers are gone for good during the day. Some children learn to control their bladders first others learn to control their bowels first. Bladder control through the night takes longer than day control. It can take several months or even years for your child to stay dry during the night.
  • Expect accidents to happen. Be calm do not overreact or blame, shame or punish your child. Have a change of clothes easily available. Accidents are common until about five years of age — ask any kindergarten teacher! And even when your child is staying dry during the day, naps and nighttime will still pose a challenge — this kind of control will take longer.
  • Also, a child who has learned to use the toilet may start wetting her pants or the bed due to stress or change. This is common and doesn’t usually last long, in terms of daytime dryness, but nighttime bedwetting may take longer to reinstate.
  • Try not to use words like dirty, stinky, smelly – this may make some children self conscious about using the potty or the toilet.
  • It’s very important to compliment your child’s attempts, even if he misses.
  • If your child resists toilet learning, back off and try again later; he may not be ready yet. To not force him this will only make it more frustrating for both of you.

Finally, remember that every child is different, so don’t worry if your child takes longer to be fully toilet trained.

Talk to your doctor:

  • if your child was using the toilet for several months and has now regressed;
  • she is withholding stool;
  • she is experiencing pain or
  • there is blood in the urine or stool; there is a rash;
  • is over 4 years old and not able to control his bowels or bladder
  • or you have other concerns about your child’s toilet learning

Even very young babies can show aggressive behaviour, like howling and thrashing. But how should you react if your 11-month old hits another infant?

Some typical adult reactions to aggression include punishment, laughing at it, or just pretending it didn’t happen. Some even think it is best just to “let the kids work it out” and not interfere at all. Like anger, aggression is a normal part of a child’s development and dealing with it is one of the most important challenges of parenthood. How your child displays her feelings and behaves with others can be influenced by her temperament. Differences in temperament will cause some children to be more aggressive while others are hardly aggressive at all.

When infants display anger and aggression, it is often due to discomfort, pain or frustration. Older babies will use aggression to protect themselves, to express anger or to get what they want. When your baby is aggressive, it is because he has not learned a better way of behaving.

Use these strategies to prevent or respond to aggressive behaviour. They will help your baby learn more appropriate ways of behaving with others.

  • Your crying baby is telling you something and it is important for you to respond. When you do, your baby will learn to trust you and other adults and know that you will respond consistently and sensitively when he is uncomfortable or upset.
  • Use a soothing voice and gentle touches. Expressing warm feelings through touch is crucial for your baby’s emotional development.
  • Try to understand what caused the aggressive behaviour and eliminate as many sources of
    frustration as possible.
    This helps her feel safe and secure.
  • Create safe play spaces so your baby can move through the house without constantly being told “don’t touch” and “don’t do that.” Too many “no’s” will frustrate and anger your baby.
  • Provide your baby with periods of play with you or other caregivers throughout the day. Play is a wonderful way for your baby to learn about his environment and how to relate positively with the people and things that make up his world.
  • When playing with your baby, provide many examples of your own caring behaviour, and use simple words like “softly” and “gently” to describe your actions.
  • Talk to your baby, congratulating him on every effort. Even if he doesn’t understand the words, he understands he is important to you and this makes him want to please you which is critical when he needs to follow your directions.
  • Support your baby’s early efforts to soothe herself. Thumb sucking or hugging a soft toy or blanket are rarely hard habits to break, and they help your baby learn to calm herself.
  • Provide your baby with consistent daily routines, which are the prelude to rules. Taking the guesswork out of his day will help him develop a sense of what to expect and how to respond to your family’s routines and activities.
  • Infants need to learn to cooperate and share. If your baby is grabbing or hitting another child, let her know that it is not OK. Show her how to ask for toys how to offer toys to others or redirect her attention to another toy or activity.
  • Use simple words to let your baby know that her behaviour is too aggressive. Remember, it will take lots of repetition before your baby understands what “no” means.

Positive Parenting Strategies to Cope with Aggression

  • Stay calm.
  • Treat any child who may have been hurt by the aggressor.
  • Make sure no one is laughing or giving the child’s inappropriate behaviour attention.
  • Try to understand what caused the aggressive behaviour to explain it to each child involved.
  • Tell the aggressor (even a baby) why the behaviour is inappropriate and what she can do instead.
  • Be consistent with any consequences and follow through.